I wake feeling awful, and something has changed (again). The whiskey picklebacks we drank after Hot Bird in Brooklyn seem to have set me back a way, along with the lack of sleep, and the early morning omelette and grits. I look at the business card of the US Special Agent who came along and told me that he’d done detail on Tony Blair who had a man who was employed to deliver uncomfortable news to other people so Blair didn’t have to. Who tells me the Saudi Royal Family tried to give someone $400-odd for some RiteAid. It’s the coolest business card I have ever seen. He was a nice guy, too. Add to this mix a slice of palate-scraping pizza back in Manhattan before turning in as the sun rose and I know why I feel so bad. I consider a late check out but I know that I’ll feel bad all day, whatever I do. So I go to Chelsea Market, where, predictably, I feel worse. Then it dawns on me: the flight departs at 20:40pm, from JFK to LHR and I will be up for close to 24 hours. I think about what that means, and then think about it some more, and get gingerly into the shower and play with the temperature setting for longer than is strictly necessary.
Later: much later, on the District Line two loud people sit next to me and talk in French. I move, with my case, my resistance to this kind of thing low. They notice but continue to have their uncomfortably staccato conversation, phones waving, each of them texting, talking, pointing and shouting. The woman beside me on the plane seemed to be able to fall asleep at will. I struggled, unable to sleep well on planes, unable, any more, to sleep well, at all. Ever. I buy at Zippo. It has no fuel in it. I pick up the Independent but nothing in it moves me at all apart from a write up about Tom Finney. East Ham seems smaller, provincial, in a way it never did on returning from Chicago, or Atlanta, or any of the other places I’ve been but I suspect its because what I set out to do was dismantle these things and get back to the thing itself. There is not much call for honesty in a world where subterfuge, politics and a slow, plodding awareness of other’s weaknesses will get you far. London, then, again. I wait.